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NY Attorney General: Strip State Comptroller of Pension Fund Control

Friday, October 09, 2009

New York's single largest asset is the state's pension fund, nearly $120-billion that supports retired state and municipal employees. Now, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is calling for a fundamental change to the way the money is managed, in light of his investigations into an alleged pay-to-play scheme at the fund. WNYC's Lisa Chow reports.

REPORTER: Cuomo stood on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse in downtown Manhattan.

CUOMO: People who want to rob the state of NY go to the pension fund. Why? because that's where the money is.

REPORTER: Cuomo says instead of having one person managing billions of tax supported dollars, currently the State Comptroller, New York should follow the example of other states and create a board of trustees, so there are greater checks and balances and several "sets of eyes" watching the state's pension fund.

Carol Kellermann is president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a municipal watchdog group. She questions whether a board is the way to go, because it's harder to know who to blame when things go wrong. She points out that Mayor Bloomberg took the opposite approach when he got rid of the Board of Education.

KELLERMANN: When we had the debate of mayoral control, some of it was kind of the same. it was about accountability. it's a lot of money. we need metrics and let's make sure we know there is one person who is responsible.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Cuomo proposed new legislation, along with three state senators, to start the debate in Albany. So far, changing the management structure of the massive fund is getting a lukewarm response from State Assembly leaders. For WNYC, I'm Lisa Chow.

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